Kindness to others in children can begin with kindness to animals. Even though children can be fairly self-centered, exposure to animals can bring out the nurturing side of a child. At times, however, children can also be cruel to insects or animals. These times provide an important opportunity for a lesson in the feelings of creatures other than human beings and can lead to greater kindness for other people as well.
Our current Torah portion forbids us from plowing with an ox and an ass together. Besides a concern for not mixing species together, plowing with an ox and an ass can be painful for the smaller animal who would suffer in this yoking. In this way the Torah shows humanitarian concern for animals.
Expose your children to animals and teach them how to care for them. Even if you can’t yourself have a pet for a child, you can visit pet stores and zoos and have your child learn about animals. Sometimes families who cannot own a pet can borrow a pet for the weekend. It’s important for children to be given opportunities to show caring for others.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the importance of being kind to animals.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- What kind of animals do you like the best? The least?
- Have you or anyone you know ever mistreated an animal?
- Why do you think people would mistreat an animal?
- Why do you think it’s important to be kind to animals?
By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
© 2009, 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar
Torah Topics for Today is created to introduce values/ethics through a Jewish lens into family discussions. Visit our site at www.torahtopicstoday.com.